I can only describe this race as running free: free from pressure, free from a hard goal time and most importantly free from my Garmin. Yep, I chose to run with only my lap watch. I planned to lap it at every mile to make sure I was being smart, but to truly run on feel. It was the best decision I made and I had more fun than I have ever had in a race.
I slept in, did my shake-out then went to brunch at my dear friend Sofia and her (new) fiancee’s place. Sofia and her twin sister knew Brad and I before we knew each other and were both there the day we met, got engaged and got married. After brunch, we went directly to Broadway to see Jersey Boys (amazing!) and got a chance to catch up with Amanda and her husband. Later that evening we met our friend Andrea for dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi. Andrea is a close friend that lived down the hall from us in Greenville. Getting the chance to spend so much time on Saturday with old friends was awesome and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate race eve!
The morning of the race was nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. I slept well and woke up refreshed (before my alarm, thanks DST!). Erin and I started texting right away, laughing over our hideous outfits.
I was nervous about logistics but everything went smoothly in getting to the ferry and finding Erin immediately. We rode the ferry over, got in line for the last real bathrooms at the terminal then headed straight over to the buses.
We watched the time and thought we were fine, despite how long it took waiting in the lines. I had some real moments of terror and dread on the bus and was thankful to be there with Erin to talk through it instead of stewing on them alone. Once we got over to the staging area, we met up with Lynton, got in yet another porta potty line, then separated and headed to our corrals.
Apparently we waited WAY too long to do this. I went in the corral where I saw my bib # listed (and they told me to go), used the no-line porta potties again and sat down to wait. Time ticked by and nothing was happening. By 9:40 (my start time!), I started freaking out. I looked around and everyone in my corral started taking off their outer layers and had 24’s on their bibs!! I was a 10! As I fought my way through the crowds up toward the front, I was told that I was in was wave 2 and wave 1 was already gone. I was completely frazzled and a little upset, but once I got to the front there were at least 10 – 20 others that had the same problem. We all laughed together and reassured each other that it didn’t matter. Praise chip timing.
The volunteers finally walked us up to the starting point on the bridge around 9:55. The music was playing, kids on buses were cheering and screaming and the atmosphere was buzzing. I started to get REALLY excited. But then the volunteers walked us up to the start line and right over the starting mats. As I crossed, I paused briefly, but assumed that the starting arch had the timing sensor in it. After standing there for a few minutes, we all realized that we had in fact crossed the sensor already. I was super bummed and didn’t know what to do. I walked back behind the sensor again and stood there until the cannon sounded, but I wasn’t sure if that had screwed things up even more. Nearly 5 minutes passed between when I originally crossed and when we finally started and I just knew that my time would reflect that (spoiler: It didn’t!). My heart was heavy because I had made so many silly mistakes that morning and I didn’t want this to be how my race began.
I started running and tried to push all the negative thoughts out of my head. I kept repeating to myself to let it go and just enjoy the race, but I was feeling really negative for the first few miles.
I took it SUPER easy in the mile up and back down the bridge and just tried to look around and take it all in. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect and I was finally running this race.
Miles 1 – 2: 8:42 (up Verrazano), 7:59 (down)
Once I came off the bridge and into Brooklyn, I FINALLY let it go. I decided that it didn’t matter and I would just have fun and enjoy every moment. In the end, the start confusion was probably the best thing that happened because I truly let go of my thoughts on time and just ran.
There was so much happening along the streets of Brooklyn that it was hard to take it all in. There was music and people and they cheered for EVERYONE. I smiled and waved and high fived. I must have said out loud 5 times, “This is AMAZING.” At mile 7, we came out of a particularly crowded section and all of a sudden I got choked up. I have no idea why then, but I was enjoying running so much and the support of the crowds was overwhelming and it made me really emotional.
The miles flew by. I couldn’t believe how quickly it was going. I took a sip of water and gatorade at every aid station and took a salted caramel gu at mile 5. It tasted amazing, like dessert!!
Miles 3 – 7: 8:09, 8:16, 8:07, 16:08 (6 + 7, forgot to lap)
Around mile 8, the feeling that I had to pee that came on around mile 4 still hadn’t gone away. Since it was cold, I guess I wasn’t sweating much and despite all the pre-race bathroom stops, I had to go. I wasn’t going to stop though. I have never been able to relax and go on the run, but this time, I thought “If this gets bad enough, it will eventually HAVE to happen.” And after a couple of miles of trying…it did. HA! I was actually so proud of myself that I was just laughing out loud. It did feel gross, especially since I wasn’t super sweaty, but I just hoped no one noticed and was thankful for black shorts.
I felt SO much better after that and when I checked in with myself around mile 10, I felt like I hadn’t been running that long at all. Then at mile 11, the best surprise ever. I heard my name, looked to my left and there were Brad, Sofia and Thomas screaming for me.
The excitement from that lasted through the rest of Williamsburg and over the Pulaski Bridge. I had a smile permanently plastered on my face. The only thing that surprised me in the first half of the race was how much more the course rolled than I thought it would. It was nothing crazy. I just expected it to be completely flat, but there were a lot of long very gradual inclines.
Miles 8 – 12: 8:11, 8:16, 8:03, 8:18 (bridge), 8:00
This section was actually pretty quiet and went by fast. I still felt great, but was looking forward to getting into Manhatten where I knew I would see more friends on the course. I did note my time at the halfway point was 1:47:xx, which made me perfectly happy.
It was also around this point that my race started to get really crowded. I didn’t experience any crowds early because I started so close to the front of wave 2, but by the halfway point, I started catching people in the first wave. The water stops started to clog up and I was weaving around people to pass.
I focused on Coach’s advice to try to pick up the pace at mile 13 a bit, but around that time I hit the Queensboro bridge, so I worked on keeping a really steady effort, just like we discussed. I felt strong going up, but was happy to hit the top and head down into Manhatten.
Miles 13 – 15: 8:10, 8:10, 8:18 (bridge)
After everything I heard, I was really looking forward to coming off the bridge onto 1st avenue. I expected it to be a wall of noise and to be amazing. Honestly? It was definitely slightly underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong there were A TON of people and it was loud, but it seemed like everyone was out cheering for their one person or group. It really didn’t have the same energy that Brooklyn did. I moved to the left side of the road and scanned the crowds for Kevin and Chanthana. And I almost missed them! I was nearly past when I heard my name and looked right into CT’s cheering face!! I was so happy and threw my hands up and turned back around to scream Hiiiiiii!!
Once I passed them I focused on getting to 18 where I knew I would see Steph and Abby. I saw them from a distance and they were screaming for me. I laughed and yelled to them that I peed my pants. I have NO idea why I decided to scream that to them at that point…it somehow just seemed like the right thing to say.
Shortly after I passed them, I also saw teammate, Lora, which was another big boost. Seeing friends along the course is such a great feeling.
There was definitely steady noticeable uphill then down (or maybe the other way around?) as we ran all the way down 1st ave, but I was still feeling good and ready to push the pace a bit. I hoped that once I hit 18 that I could keep it under 8:00 for the remaining miles.
Miles 16 – 19: 8:14, 8:01, 7:49, 7:51
The race was reaaallly getting crowded for me at this point and the water stops were a nightmare. People were just completely stopping and walking right in the middle of the road. I was a little frustrated because I knew if I had to stop it would be hard to get back into a rhythm again. I was literally running through with my arms and elbows out and just bouncing off people to avoid crashing totally into them. I also stopped getting Gatorade at most stops so I could stay in the middle and grab water toward the end.
Once I got on Willis Avenue Bridge, over half the people were walking up it. I still felt pretty good here and just kept my effort steady up it and back down into the Bronx. There was good energy there, music and a huge screen showing the runners coming through. It also went by really quickly.
Miles 19 – 20: 8:21 (Bridge), 7:56
Once I hit the 20 mile point, I checked in with my body again to see how I was feeling. I was surprised to still be feeling pretty good. But I knew I didn’t have enough left to hammer down a 10k. I also noted that I would have to run a 47:xx 10k to PR the race at that point. I still felt like I was pushing the pace and the 21 & 22 mile split show it. I told myself if I still felt good, I would find that next gear for the last 5k. But then I hit the mountain at mile 23. It probably wasn’t that steep but it seemed like it was forever long and it kind of broke me. The crowds were great in that section and there was a girl named Kate next to me that EVERYONE was screaming for and I wished my name was on my shirt then.
I was so happy to be over that hill and into the park, but the last few miles were the longest of the race. I felt decent from an energy and fueling standpoint but my legs were done. They were so dead and my back felt tired, like it didn’t want to keep holding me up anymore. The little central park rollers weren’t awful, but I felt like I was crawling through there. I kept asking myself if I could run harder and I would pick it up a bit, but then it hurt so much I didn’t maintain. I tried to imagine that Molly was next to me telling me to stay on her shoulder and keep her pace.
I look back at this point and
know wonder if there was a goal time at stake if I could have given more? Reflecting back, I actually think I probably could. Toughness in this point in the race is something I really want to work on. I know I can get more out of myself here.
I saw CT & Kevin again around 24.5 which was a great boost. They said later that I looked great, but all I remember is Kevin telling me to get to the inside and stay there. I could only nod and do as he said.
I wish I could say I took in the awesome crowds in Columbus Circle and down the huge spectator lined chute along mile 25 (where Brad & Co. were, but I missed them :(), but I couldn’t focus on anything but putting one foot in front of the other. The finish line and the bleachers were a blur. I vaguely recall trying to put my hands up and celebrate. I was so happy to cross that finish line and stop running.
Miles 21 – 26.2: 7:58, 8:02, 8:22 (hill!!), 8:16, 8:10, 1:40 (8:10 pace)
New York City Marathon Official Time: 3:33:37
I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line and saw 3:33:39, but in that moment, my mind went back to the start snafu and wondered what it would really be. I waddled my way through the never ending walk to exit the park, alternating between pathetically crying (out of emotion and sheer exhaustion) and moaning. If I had known anyone with me, I would have been whining like an unhappy baby. It was pretty miserable and cold. Finally, I got my poncho (!!) which was super warm and awesome and made my way on the subway back to the hotel. Everyone was SO nice and congratulatory, except the lady who I sat next to in Grand Central when I switched trains…I think she realized that it wasn’t the subway that smelled like piss…
I am so, so happy with this race. It was a tough course but a perfect day. I am ecstatic to have had a consistently paced race with a small negative split (1:05) and I am over the moon with the final time on the clock.
I feel like I ran smart, but also had a blast and took it all in. Outside of the logistics of the race, it definitely goes to the top of my 6 marathons as my favorite. I had so much fun out there and really felt like I enjoyed the miles rather than counting them down (until the last 5k, that is!).